What is the FELA Law and How Does it Protect Me?

Have you heard of the FELA law? If you are a railroad worker, you probably have. In any case, FELA is very important, so you might want to know more about it. 

In premise, the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) has been developed with the idea of helping railroad workers nationwide. But how exactly?

In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about the FELA law in terms of legal defense.

So, if that’s something you would like to know more about, keep reading.

What Is the FELA Law?

Railroad workers face serious dangers in their work environment. This was especially true for when the FELA law appeared in 1908, as it was evidently more common for workers to get injured during the construction of heavy-duty lines.

FELA continues to provide a system for legal recovery for workers and their families from any injuries that might have been suffered by the worker at work. Almost any injury is protected under FELA if it occurs on the job, including any injury that occurs to an individual whose work is not directly related to trains.

Any claim under FELA is subject to delivery to the company or employer, but it can also find itself before the court of law on a federal level if necessary.

While providing support for legal claims, FELA also provides railroad employers and companies with an estimated liability system when it comes to employee safety and working conditions on the job. If your loved one or yourself have suffered an injury as a railroad employee, it’s important that you continue to read for a full understanding of your legal right to compensation.

The Case of Liability

Unlike a not-at-fault compensation law under which a worker who suffered injured does not have to establish fault, under FELA you have to show that the railroad, employees, or equipment developer (defendant) was negligent and their negligence leads to your injury. 

The basic principle is that you have to show the defendant has failed to provide you with a reasonable place to work under safe conditions.

Under FELA, railroad employers owe workers a significant amount of duty. The violation of which can assist in finding liability under the law. These duties include, but are not limited to:

  1. To ensure employees are safe from intentional harmful acts
  2. To ensure safety regulations 
  3. To not use unreasonable quotas on work
  4. To inspect work conditions for hazards
  5. To provide a safe environment, devices, tools, etc.
  6. To provide sufficient assistance, supervision, training upon job function

It’s also important to note that the percentage of the fault has to be shown in less of a degree than that which would occur in a regular negligence claim, such as a car accident.

An individual making a FELA claim has to only show that the defendant was negligent in any manner, and no matter how large or small their negligence was, it had played a role in the injuries. This is the burden of proof, and it provides an advantage to the sufferer who is seeking legal recovery.

FELA also looks at whether or not the railroad upon the injury occurred was involved in countrywide commerce, but it’s very likely that it was. 

Also if a railroad is found to have violated a standard set out in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration Act, Safety Appliance Act, Boiler Inspection Act, or any other workplace safety standard, the attorney will have an easier time supporting the case.

FELA Compensation

A successful lawsuit in FELA law will result in monetary compensation. In most cases, compensation is applicable for:

  1. The employee’s past and future medical treatments
  2. The employee’s past and future wage loss
  3. The employee’s past and future suffering, physical and mental

In the event that the injury results in death, under FELA the children and surviving spouse will receive compensation. If the worker does not have such a family, the compensation spreads out to surviving parents or other family members.

Comparative Negligence

As mentioned earlier, the FELA standard provides protection for injured workers, and fault in the claim is substantially easier to prove than in any other lawsuit.

That being said, the primary defense in a FELA claim is comparative negligence. Under this approach, the defendant will attempt to prove that your negligence has contributed to your injuries, thus removing entire liability from themselves.

Comparative negligence works in a manner of all arguments being heard, after which the jury will come to conclusions upon who is to be held legally accountable for the injuries. This works through the assignment of fault percentages to the involved entities.

This percentage will also reference the damages that are to be awarded to the plaintiff. For instance, if the jury decides that the company is 80% to blame for the injuries while the employee is 20% at fault, and the damages amounted are to be $100000, the plaintiff will only receive $80000 from the defendant.

FELA Elaborated

Now that you know how to properly defend your FELA law, you are well on your way to receive compensation for the suffrage caused by your employer.

As you’ve gathered, you will need the services of an attorney to conclude this claim. However, most lawyers don’t work for free, and if you’re out of work due to an injury, it might be hard to hire one.

If you’re interested in legal funding to support your FELA claim, contact us and we will happily accommodate your needs.


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